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by Jennifer Apodaca
Kensington, April 2004
304 pages
ISBN: 0758200765

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Samantha Shaw has several counts against her -- she's a single mom with two sons. She's struggling to make a go of the dating service she bought when her husband died, leaving her with the shocking discovery that he was a drug-dealing, two-timing louse. And her mother constantly nags her about going into real estate (mom's trade).

On the other hand, she has the support of her spry grandpa, a retired magician and awesome computer whiz; she lives in the town she grew up in, within reach of several loyal friends, and there's this handsome private investigator she got to know while sorting out the aftermath of her husband's death.

Things start to go way out of balance, though, when she goes to visit a new friend who is trying to start her own business and looks up to Sam as a mentor. In quick succession, Sam finds Faye dead, antagonizes the investigating officer, and gets herself kidnapped by a guy wielding a can of oven cleaner.

I read the first of this series, DATING CAN BE MURDER, about a year ago and quite enjoyed it. While no one would mistake it for Great Literature, it was a fun read, with a spunky heroine, wisecracking dialogue and a fast-paced plot. Unfortunately, this sequel is a disappointment; the heroine is not so much spunky as birdbrained and the plot is simply ridiculous. The more the sleuth completely overlooks one particular suspect, the more obvious it becomes he's the Bad Guy, so no surprises at the end.

The character of Sam is particularly disappointing. Where she had a definite brash and defiant charm in the last book, her nonsensical choices just irritate in this one. Why would she sneak into the house of one suspect to look for evidence against him when she knows that (for reasons we won't go into here) he is the only person in town who knows she is going to be there? Why does she keep dressing like a cheap tart and then being surprised at the completely predictable responses she gets? How can she not figure out that the new client that asked a zillion questions is the undercover reporter that wrote a damning expose of her business?

And, OK, she was burned by the louse husband, but her dithering over whether to get involved with the hunk PI is totally unconvincing. This book has a powerful aroma of having been written in a great hurry (darn those publishers and their deadlines). Can't recommend it.

Reviewed by Diana Sandberg, July 2004

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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